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Do most DOP's operate the camera?


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#1 Matthew Glover

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 11:24 PM

Very curious about this  I am talking for big budget hollywood films.  Do most DOP's actually handle the camera? Or is there a seperate person for this job?


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 12:52 AM

Generally no, there is a separate camera operator, particularly on multi-camera shoots, which many big movies are -- it's hard to monitor what the other cameras are getting if you are operating as a DP.  On shoots that favor a single camera approach, some bigger DP's still prefer to operate: Roger Deakins, Robert Richardson, Peter Suschitsky, etc.  I was just watching the behind-the-scenes video for "The Hobbit" and noticed that DP Andrew Lesnie was operating the remote head crane shots.  But generally, I'd say that the majority of big-budget shows use a separate camera operator.


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#3 Matthew Glover

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 02:33 AM

Thanks for the reply David! I love to be behind the camera and operating it and lighting scenes...is this still a field I should go down? Its kind of a bummer that If I do make it a career in the future I wont be behind the camera.


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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 06:53 AM

You often have to operate on many productions, on big budget features it can come down to a matter of choice, but there may be more than one camera on scenes. There can be a lot going on that the DP wants to keep an eye on during a big scene.


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 10:50 AM

You can operate if you want to.


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#6 Adam Cohen

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 09:44 AM

Operating is a craft in and of its own. Steven Poster recently wrote a letter in ICG that's worth taking a look at. It talks about the benefits of being able to step away from the camera.


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#7 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 07:26 PM

I've always lit and operated. It's all part of the same job to me. That said, when I've lit TV shows that have operators, it's been a breath of fresh air to be able to just worry about lighting and know that I have two great operators taking care of camera.


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#8 Mathew Rudenberg

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 11:50 PM

The more cameras there are the more benefit for me to supervise rather then operate. For a single camera shoot I will always operate. 2 Cameras I prefer not to operate but with the right B-op and Gaffer it's doable. 3 cameras + and it's a disadvantage for me to operate, as my time is better spent managing the cameras.


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#9 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 06:58 PM

One bonus to not operating is that being able to check in with the director at the monitor can make it really awkward for a script supervisor or A.D. to backseat DP a film and make suggestions about lenses, lighting, camera placement etc.  Because the DP is right there within earshot.  So count that as an advantage that being near the director will cause others to be less likely to overstep their positions and wind up making "suggestions" that they really have no place making.


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#10 Sahil Rony (DP)

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 06:02 PM

Canon 5D MarkIII, Sony NEX-FS700, Red One, Red Mistrum X, Panasonic AG AF 105, Sony PMW-F5, F3 ets
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